This is actually quite a good article. The author is quite candid about what She believed and perhaps still believes feminism is all about, however her general tone still comes across as most men are rude pigs.
She does ask why men are so rude these days but doesn’t actually answer the question, reverting instead to explaining a bit more of her “coming out” as a lady.
If you read the whole article it quite clearly shows why it is that these days, a lot of men don’t bother with the finer points of etiquette but I was still left with the impression that She felt it was still, somehow, the fault of the men.
The first time that my future husband did it, I nearly walloped him for playing a practical joke on me.
‘What the hell are you doing?’ I hissed, as other diners in the restaurant looked on. ‘Are you trying to break my coccyx? I could have landed on my bottom!’
Poor Cornel looked aghast. You see, he wasn’t joking. He’d merely tried to do something no man had done for me before: pull out my chair for me to sit down.
Back then, six years ago, we had just met and were enjoying the dating phase of romantic meals in nice restaurants. I found him funny, charming and witty, but one thing about him made me feel rather uncomfortable — his manners.
Now I don’t know about you but there are a lot of things that leave me feeling uncomfortable on a first date, I can’t say good manners is one of them.
On that first date, when it was time to leave the restaurant, he held up my coat behind me for me to slip my arms into. His solemn face remained a picture of dignified charm while I ruined it by collapsing into a fit of giggles.
‘Give me my coat,’ I said. ‘This isn’t Pride And Prejudice.’
Cornel half-laughed, too, but I could see a flicker of doubt in his eyes that said: You, madam, are no lady.
Before Cornel, no man had ever helped me into my coat or pulled out my chair — unless it was an office joke and I was supposed to fall on my behind.
Given her reaction to this man’s simple acts of common courtesy, it’s hardly surprising She had never encountered good manners before. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that once ridiculed in such a fashion, few men, or women for that matter, would risk public humiliation again. Had this relationship fizzled out after the first date, would Cornel have treated his following date with the same politeness?. I’d like to think so but I doubt it somehow. Once bitten, twice shy.
After a hard day at the office I could usually be found in the local hostelry downing goldfish bowl-sized glasses of Pinot Grigio while joking raucously with my colleagues.
If a man had offered his seat to me on the train, I’d probably have said: ‘Do I look so fat you think I’m pregnant or something?’
A lady I was not. I could drink a man under the table. I ate sandwiches as I ran down the street.
Then I met Cornel. He had a good sense of humour, but there was something quietly dignified about him, something old-worldly.
Once again She manages to highlight, quite simply, why so few men these days are willing to risk an unwarranted verbal (or even physical) attack when simply trying to be well mannered. She portrays her own behaviour as quite normal, even acceptable, whilst Cornels is somehow odd.
At first, frankly, it felt odd. I wondered: was it just a cultural difference because he was from Romania? Certainly, no British boyfriend had ever acted this way.
Here, She hits the nail on the head, without, I think, actually realising it. Yes it is a cultural difference. There are very few countries in the world, even in our enlightened modern times, where women going out for the night, dressed in little more than underwear, drinking like fish, vomiting in public and passing out wherever they land is viewed as a good thing. Hell, even in this country most people think it is unacceptable. It is hardly surprising that no British boyfriend ever treated her with respect, when her likely response would have been to call him a wanker, slap him in the face then vomit on his shoes. To be treated like a lady one must first act like one.
Women of my generation were taught to believe that accepting gentlemanly actions was a slap in the face to our hard-won feminism. It seemed I was betraying the sisterhood.
No we weren’t. Well at least I wasn’t. I was brought up to believe that being a woman simply meant I no longer had to settle for just being a wife and mother. There was a whole other world out there and if I wanted it, all I had to do was knuckle down and go get it. My mother, a child of the revolution, never once told me that to make it in this ‘new world’ that She helped create, I had to give up good manners. My Mum’s entire take on Womens Lib, Femism etc was ‘My generation did the hard bit, the world is now your oyster’.
She never once told me that if a man opened a door for me, the acceptable ‘modern female response’ should be a quick jab to the jaw. One of the saddest things I ever saw was my Mum, a real bra burning feminist, being driven out of her local, where she had been drinking as a single divorcee since the early 70′s (divorced and alone in a public house, now that took balls), by a group of drunken, 20 something women, on a works outing, that verbally assaulted her when she asked them to refrain from using the word c*** so often.
I find that last statement the most telling. What sisterhood?. I don’t believe such a thing exists anymore, and hasn’t for sometime. Women these days are just as quick, if not quicker, to attack a ‘sister’, as they are to go for a man. Look at Nadine Dorries et al, turning on Louise Mensch because Louise made a personal decision to put her Husband and Children first. That’s not a sisterhood, that’s a bloody cult. Do as we say or you will be banished forthwith and flayed with a thousand harsh words.
Regardless of my own opinion on Louise Mensch, I applaud her response to Nadine Dorries. Whilst Nadine rambled on, and on, and on about Louise, taking up a whole article ‘dissing her sister’, Louise simply responded “Waking up to find self on the Nadine Dorries naughty step, which is a pity as I spend my entire life worrying about what she thinks (ahem).” Pithy, to the point and above all, polite.
I have men friends I have known since school, whom I would trust with my life. I have girlfriends from school I wouldn’t trust with my shopping list, let alone anything as serious as a secret or a boyfriend. They are so obsessed with ‘having it all’ they would literally climb over a ‘sister’ to get it, and believe every other woman would do the same. For a Sister, the hood can be a pretty lonely and dangerous place these days. I have witnessed lifelong girlfriends come to blows over nothing more than a new or prospective partner speaking to the friend for more than five minutes. I myself have lost several ‘Sisters’ over the last few years, because as a single female (long term, long distance boyfriends aren’t counted as partners) the only reason I would express doubt about a Sisters new partner, who has less than desirable habits, is because I’m a spiteful old spinster bitch who can’t get a boyfriend herself so sets out to steal or scare off everyone elses’.
I pride myself on being a modern woman. A feminist, if you will. I manage to make my way in the world, holding my own whilst also, somehow, managing to hold doors open for others, always. I would rather die than ever allow a shop door to slam in the face of someone else, regardless of their sex. I make a point of thanking those that do the same for me. I do this without ever feeling that, by simply being polite, I am somehow giving away my womanhood and resigning myself to a life of servitude at the hands of of evil men. I’m just being well mannered.
I am always a little saddened if the door holder looks shocked at my warm smile and heartfelt ‘ Thank you’. I make damned sure I mutter out loud ‘You’re f****** welcome’ regarding those, of both sexes, and ages, that stroll through the open door I am holding with out so much as a civil ‘Thank you’. I make a point of allowing those with 2, 4, 6 or even a hundred items to take my place in the queue if I have more. I am always the first with ‘After you’ and get really bloody cross when I insist a modern women enters a store before me and the thanks I get is is watching her stroll off to the handbag department whilst the door slams shut in my face.
I’ll let the rest of you decide if this woman actually deserves the well mannered partner she has somehow managed to land. Is she a feminist, fighting her corner, but proud to reveal her softer side? or is She still a rude, obnoxious, self centered narcissist that has no bloody idea how lucky she is and still thinks her husband’s good manners are a bit of a joke, albeit a joke that She has chosen, as a a true feminist, to take and use as a way to earn her own, independent and not in anyway male influenced living, goddammit.